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Ale vs beer – how are they different?

These days (and by that I mean the best part of the last 500 years) there is no real difference and the words are often used interchangeably. In the Ye Olde days beer was made with hops, while ale wasn’t. Ale (without hops) was a sweet drink without any of the bitterness to balance it – not great. Now hops is used universally causing the confusion.

While all ales are beers,┬ánot all beers are ales. The beers that aren’t ales are lagers – confused? The difference between ales and lagers is principally the yeast used in each. Ales use a yeast that ferments at the top of the vessel (between 15-21 degrees celsius) and generally produce big flavours.

Lagers use a different yeast that ferments at the bottom of the vessel (between 2-10 degrees celsius) and generally create a cleaner, crisper taste. Lager comes from the German word meaning “to store”. Hence lagers ferment for longer than ales ideally under the controlled conditions of a fridge or a cave if you have one.

How good would it be to own a cave.

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